Let’s do brunch!

During December I’ve very much enjoyed hosting the Breakfast Club for Helen at Fuss Free Flavours.

The theme I set was brunch, and we received a surprisingly diverse and incredibly delicious array of not-quite-breakfast-yet-not-quite-lunch dishes, all equally perfect for this festive season when we’re allowed to roll out of bed just that little bit later than normal.

So without further ado, let’s crack on with the round-up…

Helen from Fuss Free Flavours delivered our first dish with these very timely Turkey, Cranberry & Stilton Christmas Brunch Muffins – an absolutely delicious way to use up those Christmas leftovers, and they don’t even require an egg!

Turkey, cranberry and stilton Christmas muffins from Fuss Free Flavours
Turkey, cranberry and Stilton Christmas muffins from Fuss Free Flavours

Next on the menu is this Beet Greens & Red Pepper Frittata from Eleni at On Top of Spaghetti. It’s easy to prepare, healthy and tasty, and ideal for brunch or perhaps a light lunch with a side salad. What’s more, it’s a great way to use those beet greens that many people don’t even realise you can eat.

Beet green and red pepper frittata from On Top of Spaghetti
Beet green and red pepper frittata from On Top of Spaghetti

As Louisa from Chez Foti says herself, these White Chocolate &  Cranberry Christmas Cookies make for a “wickedly good brunch snack with a cup or two of coffee” and are just the ticket during the festive period when sweet treats are de rigeur, even at breakfast!

White chocolate and cranberry Christmas cookies from Chez Foti
White chocolate and cranberry Christmas cookies from Chez Foti

I can’t believe I’ve never thought of combining beans and cheese on toast with a poached egg myself, but that’s exactly what Laura from Credit Munched has done in her Buck Rarebit. The combination sounds just so ‘right’ and perfect for a lazy brunch.

Buck rarebit from Credit Munched

My turn next and my offering was a simple but tasty Courgette and Mushroom Omelette with Garlic and Parsley. It’s ideal for when you crave a cooked breakfast but don’t want to go to too much effort.

Courgette and mushroom omelette with garlic and parsley from Bangers & Mash
Courgette and mushroom omelette with garlic and parsley from Bangers & Mash

Now while these Swiss Scrambled Eggs, Croissants and Shakes from Fabulicious Food might look designed to be a hangover cure, they’re honestly not. Ren came up with this delicious breakfast-brunch to fill her family with much-needed vitamins and goodness to aid recovery from the winter flu bug. I’m sure they were fighting fit in no time…

Swiss scrambled eggs, croissants and shakes from Fabulicious Food
Swiss scrambled eggs, croissants and shakes from Fabulicious Food

Mushrooms on toast, especially using good homemade bread, has to be a top contender for my favourite brunch dish. And these Mushrooms on Rye Toast from The Garden Deli look simply beautiful, don’t you think?

Mushrooms on rye toast from The Garden Deli
Mushrooms on rye toast from The Garden Deli

Sometimes brunch becomes much more like lunch than it is breakfast. And in times like these, wouldn’t you love a Minestrone Soup like this one from Divine Foods Living to set you up for the day?

Minestrone soup from Divine Foods Living
Minestrone soup from Divine Foods Living

These Nduja Potato Cakes from Foodycat make for a hearty, grown up brunch, especially served with a Bloody Mary. I must admit to having to google nduja – it turns out to be a spicy, spreadable sausage made from pork and is a Calabrian variation of salami.

Nduja potato cakes from Foodycat
Nduja potato cakes from Foodycat

Elizabeth from Elizabeth’s Kitchen describes these Christmas Breakfast Muffins as the best tasting muffins she’s ever made, and I have to say they do look incredibly good from her photos. Made from granola, marmalade, orange juice and apricots, they are the perfect breakfast in a cake.

Christmas breakfast muffins from Elizabeth’s Kitchen
Christmas breakfast muffins from Elizabeth’s Kitchen

It might not look like your usual late breakfast dish, and indeed I did have to persuade Kavey from Kavey Eats to enter her spectacular Speculoos & Mascarpone Pancake Cake into this month’s Breakfast Club, but personally I think this would make a superb, albeit slightly decadent, brunch. I also think I could gladly tuck into this amazing creation at just about any time of day…

Speculoos and mascarpone pancake cake from Kavey Eats
Speculoos and mascarpone pancake cake from Kavey Eats

I adore poppy seeds in any baked goods and they look particularly scrummy in these Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins from Mondomulia, and isn’t the photography simply stunning too? They’re perfect for a festive brunch, but I think they’d be great at any time of year. I might also try baking a batch for my daughters’ lunch boxes in the new year.

Lemon poppy seed muffins from Mondomulia
Lemon poppy seed muffins from Mondomulia

And last, but certainly not least, come these fantastic Brunch Quesadillas from Camilla at Fab Food 4 All. Filled with bacon, mushroom and cheese, these tasty tortillas would make an ideal brunch for New Year’s Day to help sort your head out after that one-too-many-glasses-of-fizz from the night before.

Brunch quesadillas from Fab Food 4 All
Brunch quesadillas from Fab Food 4 All

So there you have it. A particularly fine round-up of brunch recipes, I think you’ll agree. Thanks to Helen at Fuss Free Flavours for inviting me to host December’s Breakfast Club and to all you wonderful bloggers for linking up your yummy recipes.

Courgette and mushroom omelette with garlic and parsley

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you’ll know I’ve only discovered my cooking mojo in the last few years. I spent a long time feeling out-0f-place in the kitchen. But I do believe I’ve arrived and earned my right to wear a pinny (although I generally forget to until it’s too late). Don’t get me wrong, I’ll never be a great cook and I won’t be entering Masterchef anytime soon, but I think I might be turning into a good cook. Indeed, in a restaurant the other evening, my husband told me he thought my cooking was better. I was ever so slightly on the chuffed side.

Omelettes were always one of those dishes I had trouble with. Well, rather I assumed I would if I actually plucked up the courage to try making one. Yes I know they’re quick and simple, but only if you’re a proper cook. Or so I thought. In recent months, I’ve made myself learn how to make a good omelette because I realise they are the ultimate fast food. After one or two duds along the way, I’ve worked out they’re not all that difficult after all. It’s all about trial and error and not being afraid to make a few mistakes. If you don’t make mistakes, how can you find out what works and what doesn’t?

We now eat a fair few omelettes in our house. Our life can get pretty manic, what with school and work and all the various out-of-school clubs and activities, not to mention some attempt at a social life; so it’s good to have a speedy and adaptable supper up your sleeve. They also make the perfect brunch dish, when you fancy something warm and tasty but don’t want to go to too much effort.

Now that I’m turning into a bit of an omelette fanatic, I was rather pleased when Littlewoods sent me a set of Russell Hobbs pans to test out – a frying pan and an omelette pan*. After many years, the non-stick coating on our old pan had given up the ghost, and omelettes aren’t so great when you don’t have a non-stick pan. At just £27 for the pair, they do seem a bit of a bargain. At first, when the pans arrived, I thought they were a little on the lightweight side, but having used them a few times now, I can confirm they are pretty decent pans. How long they’ll remain non-stick with the amount of wear and tear they’ll get in my kitchen remains to be seen, but for now they certainly turn out a good omelette.

I enjoy trying out new fillings for my omelettes. This latest concoction was simply a way of using up a few bits and bobs in the fridge. It worked out rather well so I think I’ll be adding it to my tried-and-test list.

Courgette and mushroom omelette with garlic and parsley

Serves 2

olive oil, a couple of glugs
1 courgette, halved lengthways and sliced
handful of chestnut mushrooms, sliced
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
handful of fresh parsley, roughly chopped
knob of butter
4 eggs, lightly beaten and seasoned with pepper

Heat a glug of olive oil in a frying pan over a medium heat and gently fry the courgette until softened. Throw in the mushrooms and soften these too before adding in the garlic and parsley. When the garlic is golden, take off the heat and keep warm to one side.

In your omelette pan, heat another glug of olive oil with the knob of butter over a fairly high heat. Pour in the beaten egg and leave for a few seconds to give it time to ‘catch’.

Then using an implement that won’t scratch your lovely non-stick pan (my weapon of choice is a rubber spatula!), start dragging the edges of the eggy mixture into the middle, going round and round, and letting the runny egg fill in the gaps you are leaving. As the omelette starts to firm up, tilt the pan to encourage the uncooked egg to flow into the spaces.

When the only runny egg left is on the surface, leave it for 30 seconds or so to continue cooking, and then it’s time to add your filling.

Pour the mushroom and courgette mixture over one half of the omelette and carefully fold over the other half. Cut in half and slide out onto warmed plates. Enjoy!

As a good omelette is a perfect lazy brunch dish, I’m entering this recipe into December’s Breakfast Club, a blogger challenge created by Fuss Free Flavours and which this month is being hosted by – oh yes, it’s me! If you’d like to enter a dish you can find out more here.
And because it features lots of lovely fresh parsley, I’m also linking up with Herbs on Saturday hosted by Lavender & Lovage.
* Disclosure: I was provided with two complimentary Russell Hobbs pans for review purposes and no money exchanged hands.

What brunch dish will you bring to the Breakfast Club?

Breakfast Club: because breakfast should be more interesting than tea & toast or coffee & cereal.

During December, I am delighted to be hosting Breakfast Club, a bloggers challenge created by the very talented Helen at Fuss Free Flavours to encourage more creativity in the kitchen for that all important first meal of the day. I really hope you’ll join in the fun by entering a dish or two.

Let’s do brunch!

The theme for Breakfast Club this month is Brunch. According to Marge Simpson’s charming Casanova of a bowling instructor, the über smooth Jacques, brunch is…

…not quite breakfast, it’s not quite lunch, but it comes with a slice of cantaloupe at the end. You don’t get completely what you would at breakfast, but you get a good meal!

Brunch is my idea of a perfect breakfast. The kind of lazy breakfast you cook and eat at leisure on a relaxed Sunday, when you’re not in a rush to get to work or school. The kind of laid back breakfast you take your time over with a large pot of coffee and a selection of papers.

So no, not the kind of breakfast I get to eat all that often, but I always make sure I indulge when the opportunity presents itself. And a very good idea to have a stock of good brunch recipes up your sleeve for when it does.

It’s very easy to enter a brunch dish into this month’s Breakfast Club:

  • Email me with the URL for your brunch recipe blog post
  • Mention in your post you are entering your dish into Breakfast Club, include the logo above, and add links back to both this post and the Breakfast Club page at Fuss Free Flavours
  • Entries can be submitted to other events
  • You are welcome to enter old posts/recipes but they must be republished with the logo and links above
  • If you use Twitter please use #blogbreakfastclub and tweet your entry, and I’ll retweet everyone I see
  • The closing date is Friday 28 December 2012.

Hopefully, that all makes sense but if you do have any questions, please comment below. I can’t wait to see your entries!

Oh and before I forget, Helen at Fuss Free Flavours is always on the look out for new guest hosts for the Breakfast Club, and last month’s round up is here.

To get things started, I thought I’d give you my brunch recipe. I found it hard to choose which one as I have so many brunch favourites. I love pancakes and did think about entering these indulgent lemon and ricotta pancakes.

Or how about a more virtuous start to the day with some homemade granola?

But then I do also find it hard to resist a good fry up, but really – who needs a recipe for that? And so I’ve decided on…

The full English pizza

I know it sounds a little crazy. Or maybe a lot crazy. But this is a perfect and fun weekend brunch, particularly when you’ve had a few drinks the night before and need some stodge to sort you out. It’s essentially all the usual suspects you’d find in a cooked English breakfast but on top of a pizza. Gorgeous. And you probably won’t need to eat for the rest of the day.

I get up early to make the pizza dough. Then go back to bed for a bit with a cup of tea while the dough rises. But if that sounds to you like too much of a palaver, then ready-made pizza bases would make life a little easier.

Makes 4 pizzas

For the dough:

400g strong white bread flour
1 tsp salt
1 x 7g sachet fast action dried yeast
2 tbsp chopped fresh oregano
250ml luke warm water
1 tbsp olive oil

For the topping:

200g spinach
knob of butter
passata, about half a jar
4 pork sausages, grilled and sliced
4 rashers bacon, grilled and chopped
mozzarella, 2 x 250g balls
4 free range eggs

To make the pizza dough, put the flour, salt, dried yeast and oregano into a large mixing bowl and mix well.

Make a well in the middle and pour in the lukewarm water and oil. Gradually work the flour into the liquid, making a soft dough. If it’s too dry, add a drop more water. If it’s too sticky, add a little more flour.

Flour your surface before tipping the dough onto it. Knead the dough by stretching it away from you, then pulling back into a ball. Do this for five minutes or so, until the dough is smooth and elastic.

Return the dough to the mixing bowl, cover loosely with cling film and put in a warm place for about an hour, until the dough has doubled in size. This is when I retire back to bed for a while.

Preheat the oven to 200°C/Gas Mark 6 or use the middle of the top oven of an Aga.

Uncover the risen dough and punch it back down. Flour the surface again and divide the dough into four balls. Stretch or roll out each ball until you have a thin circle about 22cm across. Place the pizzas onto slightly oiled baking sheets.

Melt the butter in a frying pan. Add the spinach and cook gently until wilted.

Pour a couple of tablespoons of passata onto each pizza, smoothing out with the back of the spoon. Spread some spinach over each base (squeeze out any excess butter), followed by the pieces of sausage and bacon, and finish with torn pieces of mozzarella. Be careful not to overload the centre of the pizza, where you’ll be cooking your egg later.

Bake the pizzas in the oven for 15-20 minutes. Remove from the oven and carefully break an egg into the middle of each pizza. Return to the oven for 3 to 4 minutes until the white is just cooked but the yolk is still soft. Enjoy at your leisure!

December’s entries for Breakfast Club:

  1. Turkey, Cranberry & Stilton Christmas Brunch Muffins from Fuss Free Flavours
  2. Beet Greens & Red Pepper Frittata from On Top of Spaghetti
  3. White Chocolate &  Cranberry Christmas Cookies from Chez Foti
  4. Buck Rarebit from Credit Munched
  5. Courgette and Mushroom Omelette with Garlic and Parsley from Bangers & Mash
  6. Swiss Scrambled Eggs, Croissants and Shakes from Fabulicious Food
  7. Mushrooms on Rye Toast from The Garden Deli
  8. Minestrone Soup from Divine Foods Living
  9. Nduja Potato Cakes from Foodycat
  10. Christmas Breakfast Muffins from Elizabeth’s Kitchen
  11. Speculoos & Mascarpone Pancake Cake from Kavey Eats
  12. Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins from Mondomulia
  13. Brunch Quesadillas – Fab Food 4 All